TORONTO — Family estate disputes can get nasty, all the more so when rich people are involved.
Among some of the more high-profile court cases in recent memory, widow Lori Horton sued Tim Hortons’ co-founder Ron Joyce to get back the half of the doughnut shop company that she had sold to him more than a decade earlier, Canadian Tire heiress Martha Billes sued her brothers for control of the retail chain, and the McCain brothers’ disputed the succession plans at their frozen foods empire.
Even next to those, the Leon family feud looks particularly vicious.
The battle pits Terry Leon, chief executive of Leon’s Furniture Ltd., a storied Canadian business with 304 stores across the country and annual revenue of $2.2 billion, against Anita Leon, the widow of his deceased brother, Tom.
In a lawsuit set to go to trial over two weeks this December, Anita Leon alleges Tom’s three brothers, Terry, Robert and Kevin, are trying to hold on to a Leon family investment that she says is rightfully hers. At stake are millions of dollars worth of Leon’s shares and what remains of some highly fractured family relationships.